Our debut feature recipe is classic chicken soup. I wanted our inaugural recipe to be something traditional, something special, something memorable. But chicken soup? Doesn't everyone know how to make chicken soup? Maybe. But here is the version that my husband calls "the elixir of life." I make this stock every Thursday evening (for Shabbat dinner the next night), before every Jewish holiday, when a family member is sick, and whenever I have a good excuse. I use the stock as is, with noodles or other starch additives, or doctor it up to make a Chinese-style soup or a vegetable soup. I have a secret, though, that keeps me from being tied to my stovetop for hours, a secret passed down from my grandmother to my mother to me: Use a pressure cooker! My pressure cooker is probably the pot used most in my kitchen. I have three sizes for year-round use (the inexpensive Presto brand), and another set for Passover. Once the pot is put on the burner, the stock is done in about 30 minutes. If you insist, you can use a regular stockpot, but be prepared to stick around for two or three hours. Here it is: my easy, quick version of the Jewish penicillin.
3 pounds chicken frames and giblets, rinsed
1 small onion, quartered
3 medium carrots, cut up
3 stalks celery, cut up
1 parsnip, cut up (optional)
6 cups water
Knaidlach (matzah balls), optional
Try Low-Fat Matzah Balls or Stuffed Matzah Balls
Pressure cooker: Place all ingredients in the cooker and cover. Bring soup to pressure and cook 15 minutes with regulator rocking slowly. Remove from heat and let pressure drop before removing cover. (See instructions with pressure cooker - it's very easy.)
Regular pot: Place chicken parts and water (add 1 extra cup for evaporation and skimming) in stockpot and bring to a boil. Skim residue from top, add vegetables, and simmer 2-3 hours, covered.
Strain stock through a fine sieve or cheesecloth and discard vegetables. (You may save some carrot pieces for garnish.) When cool, refrigerate stock until fat congeals on top, then remove.
Heat and serve with noodles, rice, knaidlach (matzah balls), or kreplach.
This recipe may be doubled or tripled and all amounts increased proportionately.
You may use wings instead of frames or giblets. If you use whole chickens, the broth will not be as rich and you will need to use less water per pound of chicken. (Bones are much more flavorful.) Save any chicken meat to serve in the soup or to make chicken salad.
Classic Chicken Soup